Christmas ... What does this time of year mean to you?
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Sarah May Thorpe BSC MBACP
2nd December, 20140 Comments
‘Money can't buy life’ - Bob Marley
Christmas can be an incredibly joyous time for some, or an incredibly difficult, sad or stressful time for others. It is good to consider what stresses we can't avoid and ones we place on ourselves that could be avoided. Such stresses include spending too much money, over committing to please everyone. This can cause feelings of guilt, sometimes resentment. We may feel guilty for having to let people down, or resentment for feeling pressured to be somewhere we don’t want to be. Making conscious choices helps to ease these feelings. However, these feelings are natural and inevitable at times. Rather than feel bad for feeling these emotions, not judging ourselves for having uncomfortable feelings and thoughts will create less stress for ourselves and others.
Separated parents often experience stresses and strains at this time. How will my children feel? Who will have the children on Christmas Day? Will we take it in turns or split the day? Who buys what?
For many families this will create anxiety, stress and sadness. Dealing with being alone on Christmas Day without your children will create mixed emotions for many. We need to allow time to reflect and let ourselves feel these emotions. Suppressing emotions will only make them stronger.
Many elderly people will sit alone at Christmas, maybe not even have Christmas lunch or get out of bed.
People with addictions will inevitably find this time of year challenging and may be tempted to fall back in to their old patterns. The families of addicts will also suffer at these time due to their anxiety, e.g. worrying if their partner will not be there for the family get together or will they spend money on drink or other addictions. It is worth considering a plan of action to tackle these issues before they arise.
For people who have been bereaved, whether this was at Christmas time or not, this can be an extremely difficult time for them to cope. We may think everyone is having a good time, happy and with the ones they love. However, the bereaved will often experience feelings of loneliness, depression and immense sadness.
Anxiety sufferers will find that they start to feel increasingly anxious. The crowds in the shops, the noises, having to spend time with family and groups of people can be enough to trigger strong panic attacks.
For people with issues affecting healthy mental health, already feeling isolated and vulnerable, celebrations can be a trigger to feelings of sadness, fear and sometimes suicidal thoughts.
Students may be far away from their families and struggling financially if they cannot afford to go home. Especially overseas students who will be far away.
Some ideas and suggestions of surviving Christmas:
A plan of action helps to prepare ahead. Setting budgets and sticking to them. Writing lists. Having realistic expectations of ourselves and others will reduce pressure. Doing something out of the ordinary. Getting some rest and relaxation time. Time out, a walk in the fresh air or a relax in the bath. Plan to visit or invite people over. Not everyone likes Christmas or celebrates it and if you don’t then that is ok.
Become a volunteer. At Christmas charity shops or other services need help. Also you could become a volunteer for ending loneliness:
Helpline over Christmas
Hopefully if you do celebrate Christmas, this can be a great time to reflect, spend time with others who we rarely see. Relax and pamper ourselves, give and receive. Watch Christmas movies, go for winter walks, and enjoy Christmas songs.
I wish well to everyone who reads this, whatever you do, take care of yourself over the holidays.
‘Money can’t buy me love’ - Beatles
About the author
My name is Sarah Thorpe. I have a private counselling business for adults and young people.
I also work with families and their children and have done so for over 15 years. I am based in Doncaster.
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